Rebecca went back into the dining hall and retrieved more scraps that she dumped into a bucket. Setting the platter down she glanced at Sarah. “Are you the one Sergeant Phoenix recommended?”
“Of course Smith is,” Reed answered from the kitchen door. "You should have seen,” he paused slightly as he unloaded the water buckets, “him during the Trials.”
“Hopeful Smith did indeed perform better than most First Years, I will give... him that,” a deep voice rang from the door. “Sergeant Phoenix truly was not boasting.”
“Your Majesty!” both Rebecca and Reed spoke as they curtseyed and bowed.
“Stay seated Smith,” the King told Sarah as she struggled to stand, “and finish eating. It is a half day ride back to Verdas.”
Silence settled upon the group. After a moment, Rebecca and Reed set about putting the water on to heat as King Demetrioso studied Sarah.
“You do know how to ride a horse, do you not?” His voice startled them slightly.
Sarah looked up and finished her bite before speaking. “It’s been a while, your majesty, but as long as your saddles aren’t too different from what I’m used to I ought to be fine.”
“We will be taking it slow, as I only have one good arm.”
“And foot,” a voice from outside stated.
Prince Theodoso came into view beside his father. He frowned upon everyone in the room causing Reed and Rebecca to quickly return to work. Sarah merely smiled at the young man before leisurely continuing to eat. The Prince’s scowl only deepened at her.
“Let them work,” King Demetrioso told his son and the two men stepped outside.
Sarah paid no attention to them or to the flirting going on between Reed and Rebecca. Instead, she focused on filling her stomach. Reed had left for a second trip to the well by the time Sarah felt sated.
“Thank you Rebecca,” she stated as she scraped her plate and then the platter into the Pig’s bucket.
Rebecca looked a bit startled, “You’re welcome.”
Stepping outside Sarah heard the King and Reed talking. She moved quietly towards them.
“Smith, Your Majesty,” Reed questioned, “is, well, I...” he paused and took a deep breath before continuing. “Well, like you said, Smith is better than most First Years, but you’re taking... him back to Verdas.”
“Smith is not being dismissed for any reason,” King Demetrioso stated. “But, I believe you were one of the ones with my son and perhaps understand a little why Smith cannot, in truth, become a Scout.”
“Does Smith’s gender really matter Your Majesty?” Reed asked.
“In Vervell it does, my boy.” The King clapped the young man on the shoulder before smiling at Sarah. “But perhaps Smith can change a few minds; eh?” Still smiling King Demetrioso glanced at Reed before picking up a walking stick and hobbling off to where horses were waiting.
Sarah stopped next to Reed. “Help Rebecca wash the dishes. It’ll be better than working outside. Trust me,” she winked at him, “you’ll get uber kudos for it.” Laughing, Sarah left a very puzzled Reed as she hastened after the King.